Dear Joe Hockey,
Earlier this week you went on the radio and told everyone that they should go out and spend up big this year. “Don’t let Santa down,” you said. “Go out there and spend for Christmas”.
Great. If I wasn’t already feeling panicked enough about all the shit I need to get done, now you’re telling me I also need to Shop for Australia (geez, what do you get the country who has everything?).
Well, Mr Hockey, this year I’m afraid I’m not buying it.
I’m not buying this year’s must-have toy/tune/smell/gadget. I’m not buying the carpark fights and the queues. I’m not buying the grabby greed of sulky kids. I’m not buying the high-end wrapping paper that’s just going to end up in the bin.
And, most of all, I’m not buying that it’s good for the economy, the country or me that I wake up in January with a huge financial hangover that is going to take me a year to recover from.
You see, Australians are about to spend $8.3 billion on Christmas presents alone. Plus $1.3 billion on Christmas groceries. That’s a buttload of bonbons, in anyone’s book. And with household savings at an all-time low, most of this spending will be put on credit cards. Based on last year’s figures, this year we’ll charge about $25.66 billion to our credit cards while Christmas shopping.
At the moment, Australians have a national credit card debt of $33 billion (you can actually watch this debt accruing here). That’s around $4,200 per credit card holder.
Personal debt is a crushing burden on those people who have jobs. But for those in our community living on a fixed or low income, it’s a nightmare – one that people may not wake up from for many years.